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It’s a funny subplot in popular music’s history that a friend of mine pointed out in a conversation a couple of years ago; the most timeless, interesting music always tends to happen at the tail-end of a decade. He was pointing out how crazy the music industry went in the late ’90s, and how bands like Superchunk had unbelievable and hilarious amounts of money thrown at them, and bands as obviously offputting and angular as Placebo could become superstars, but it extrapolates across the decades; in lists like Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time, Sputnik’s own user-voted all-time chart, and the Top 3000 albums on Acclaimed Music, there’s a real swing toward records that arrived in the latter half of their decades. On Acclaimed Music, it’s only 5 of the top 20 and and just 17 of the top 50 that represent the first half. Look at the best-selling albums of all time on a worldwide level, and you’ll see that of the 20 studio albums to have solid more than 30 million copies, only 6 have a year ending in a number lower than 4. Where it should be half, it’s nearer to a quarter.

The one obvious explanation is that both musicians and labels – not to mention the media – are always eager to fashion out an identity that will define the decade, leading to a mad scramble of anything-goes creativity as people spend two or three years looking for the next big breakthrough. Once that identity is established, everything slowly becomes identikit, until the next rush begins. Maybe. Whatever the reason, the facts back it up.

So why has 2010 offered us so many great albums already? The ratings we staff are doling out so far seem crazy – even the harshest of raters are slapping 4.5s and 5s over records like Cosmogramma and The ArchAndroid, not to mention the wave of acclaim being showered over the likes of The Tallest Man on Earth, The National, Deftones, Dark Time Sunshine, Joanna Newsom, and VoicesVoices.

I wish I could tell you we’ve just lightened up, but the reality is that this really has been an astonishing year so far, and it’s refusing to slow down. So why now? Why 2010? It’s a curious subversion of history. I wonder if there’s a good explanation.





SowingSeason
05.13.10
this was an interesting read. 2010 has kicked ass so far

SlightlyEpic
05.13.10
I've actually been pretty disappointed in the year so far

AnotherBrick
05.13.10
i really havent found an album yet in 2010 that i've loved

Titan50
05.13.10
Did you just insult Placebo?

Skimaskcheck
05.13.10
interesting insight into the latter half of decades - did you think that up or is that an already existing theory?

AliW1993
05.13.10
Yeah this has been a really good year so far. Good blog.

Parallels
05.13.10
Did you just insult Placebo? [2]

JesusV4
05.13.10
Cool theories. Cool music.

plane
05.13.10
'interesting insight into the latter half of decades - did you think that up or is that an already existing theory? '

this is something i've talked about with a few people but i've never seen an article that explores it. anyone know of one?

Iai
05.13.10
Nah, this was literally borne out of a conversation I had with a friend. Never seen it tackled in any official way, sadly.

Klekticist
05.13.10
hmm, good point. idk, i dont think this year's been AMAZING.
pretty good though.

Ire
05.13.10
immolation.

Aids
05.13.10
Hmm interesting. Good article.

Fluorine
05.13.10
Very interesting stuff. This should actually be studied.
Have you perhaps considered that these great 2010-released albums may have been largely recorded in 2009?
Also, yay, Placebo.

TomServo
05.13.10
Really great read and extremely interesting. I was actually just noticing this when I was making my best of the 90's list. There were tons of quality albums packed in the latter half of the decade.

Oh and this year had been amazing so far, hope the great albums keep on coming.

Powerban
05.14.10
2010 has had a pretty sexy start. It's the year where lots of bands reforming are set to drop records. Maybe they know of this end of decade thing.

8bit
05.14.10
this year's already been better than all of 09' combined.

Deviant.
05.14.10
Interesting read, something I have never really thought about to be honest. But your theory is solid though, half a decade and still no catchy trend so the execs go for broke. I could easily see that as being the case

kingsoby1
05.14.10
yeah this year is just ridiculous so far: Dark Time Sunshine, ArchAndroid, Nas & Damian Marley, Immolation, Rosetta, Cosmogramma all would have made my top 10 last year.

eternium
05.14.10
No mention of Option Paralysis?

eternium
05.14.10
Wasn't mentioned in the comments either. Option Paralysis is still my second best of 2010 so far.

TheSpirit
05.14.10
Overall for music it's been a good year, but for metal it's been so/so

Yordy
05.14.10
I think this year has definitely been solid, not too many disappointing albums. With that said, I still have yet to hear anything completely mind-blowing.

Zizzer
05.14.10
If you want to be technical, Jan 1st, 2011 marks the start of the next decade since they didn't start numbering the years at year 0 like they should have done.

ShadowRemains
05.14.10
"immolation."

this...

2010 has kicked some serious ass, so far, may it continue

DaveyBoy
05.14.10
Nice write-up Nick. I actually have extensively researched this subject over many years and my conclusion will shock: COINCIDENCE.

Douglas
05.14.10
Good read.

plane
05.14.10
We're all secretly expecting something in 2012, might as well go all out

Jim
05.14.10
davey admit it - it's a CONSPIRACY

good article

mitchplatypus
05.14.10
Option Paralysis, Mechanize, and The Powerless Rise have made this year the best in recent memory. Hopefully Disturbed and All That Remains continue this greatness trend

robertsona
05.14.10
archandroid isnt even on this site some1 better get on that (i'm way too lazy :d)

Iai
05.14.10
Reviewing it in the next couple of days, don't worry

TheyTookOurJobs
05.15.10
cool post

IRAI
05.16.10
All that matters - '01;Jane Doe.

Electric City
05.16.10
dunno if this is necessary true nick tbh. consider some of sputnik's top albums from this decade, most are from the first half of the decade.

sniper
05.17.10
Two semi-colons in the first two sentences. Classssssy.

maidenpmcc
05.17.10
I just can't wait* to Maiden's The Final Frontier this year, I can't wait any longer!


Argent
05.20.10
Well, by your methodology, the end of the decade stretches from 2004 to 2010, and the beginning stretches from 2001 to 2003, so you'd already expect 70% of albums to come at the end of the decade. If you're looking for patterns in statistical fluctuation, I think I see more merit in a bias toward the 6th and 7th years of a decade.

Okay, maybe that's too harsh. Maybe there is a pattern there. If you do look any further into it, please back yourself up.

plane
05.21.10
His methodology makes it 2000-2004, 2005-2009

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